While new trucks can be prohibitively expensive, there are some bargains – best used trucks under $5,000 – if you do your homework. Though they are few and far between, the fact is that pickups ranging from compact to full-size dot the used truck marketplace. The key is to use your negotiating skills and strike your best deal. Of course, have older vehicles professionally inspected and obtain a vehicle history report so you know exactly what you’re buying.

After checking Consumer Reports “Best Used Vehicles for Under $20,000,” and reviewing Edmunds True Market Value (TMV) for models considered, we’ve selected the following as our top picks for Best Used Trucks Under $5,000:

  • 1999-2001 Toyota TacomaDebuting in 1995, the middle years of the first-generation (1995-2004) Toyota Tacoma should be on your consideration list to meet the under $5,000 price target. Consumer Reports lists the 2000-2001Toyota Tacoma compact pickup in the $6,000-$8,000 price range. Edmunds TMV for 1999 models ranges from $3,816-$8,163 for regular and extended cab models, rear-wheel drive (RWD) and 4-wheel drive (4WD). For 2000 and 2001, only the base regular cab RWD meets the target, with TMV ranging from $4,168 (2000) to $5,254 (2001). Edmunds comments: “The Toyota Tacoma’s reputation for better-than-average reliability is certainly a big bonus in the used compact truck segment. From a buying perspective, no one year of the first-generation Tacoma sticks out. Continual improvements were made throughout its run…From a safety standpoint, trucks built after 1997 would be preferable, as these will have a passenger-side airbag.”
  • 2000-2002 Nissan Frontier Consumer Reports lists the 2000 model of the Nissan Frontier compact pickup in the $4,000-$6,000 and $6,000-$8,000 price ranges. Looking at Edmunds TMV for those years shows regular, extended cab and crew cab models available ranging from $3,554-$6,765 (2000), base and extended cab starting at $4,076 and $4,678, respectively (2001), and 2002 base extended cab (King Cab) pickup starting at $5,138. Motor Trend, speaking about the 2009 Frontier, says: “Not a whole lot has changed for the Frontier over the years, but then, not a lot has needed to change. Frontier has been a strong performer on- and off-road since its introduction, and Nissan continues to offer truck buyers a good alternative if they don’t need a full-size truck or a V-8.”
  • 2000-2002 Ford F-150 King of the full-size pickup market for much of the past 30 years, Ford’s F-150 is still a great buy for consumers needing full-size truck capability. Consumer Reports lists the 2000 model in the $6,000-$8,000 range. Checking Edmunds TMV shows 2000 prices ranging from $3,425-$7,343, 2001 from $4,227-$9,635, and 2002 from $5,039-$12,495. Consumer Guide says (of 2002 F-150): “A keen blend of good manners, true truck muscle, and competitive pricing earns F-150 Best Buy status. [Chevrolet] Silverado and [GMC] Sierra match up well in performance and comfort, and boast class-leading 4WD convenience.”
  • 2000-2002 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Also consider the 2000-2002 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (and its corporate sibling, the GMC Sierra 1500) as great full-size truck choices. Both are listed in Consumer Reports (2000-2001) in the $6,000-$8,000 range. Edmunds TMV for these years ranges from a base $4,038 (2000) to a starting $5,516 (2002). Consumer Guide says of 2002 models: “Silverado and its Sierra cousin lead the full-size pickup pack in 4WD sophistication, traction-control convenience, and now 4-wheel steering. Their extended-cab rear seat accommodations are the best, and their crew cabs are as hospitable as any. Factor in performance and pricing, and Silverado and Sierra are easy Best Buys.”